The changing practice of parent-school relations : a tradition contested
This thesis explores the relationship between parents and schools in the context of reformed public policy. Following a loss of public confidence in the state system of schooling, reformed systems of school governance and arrangements for the involvement of parents in their children's schools have been introduced which champion the consumers of education rather than the producers. In order to understand the present relationship, the thesis argues that we need to understand its origins and how it has evolved over time. It is argued that current relations are shaped by a dominant tradition based on an alliance between the state and professional groups which kept parents at arm's length. The thesis uses structuration theory to explain how practices and beliefs inherent in the tradition continue to reproduce that tradition unless beliefs are challenged and new practices introduced into institutional structures which support parental agency. The thesis draws upon quantitative survey data and qualitative case-study data to investigate the parent as consumer, co-educator and citizen in comparison with the dominant tradition and draws the conclusion that there is evidence of practices and beliefs which support all of these but that the repositioning of the parent as 'active-consumer' provides evidence for a new emergent tradition.